Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's all going "duckily"

The art/print sale is going duckily - I have made this word up to replace saying "it's going swimmingly" when it's raining. The Bottomtums inspire a lot of new vocabulary for me.

I am putting 3-5 new images up a day. Most are priced at 18.50 plus s/h. I will be shipping 1x a week from now on, that way, you can purchase one or two, and if you find some later in week I can add them to your shipment and not charge extra s/h. {You'd have to email me to let me know which ones you want].

Here's an old portrait of a young, dignified JoePye Weed, our first ram who gave us many lambs over the years. In some ways, I miss him, in other ways, not so much. I think I get wispy thinking of him because I was so full of eager abandon that first year or two - no one had died, no graves had been dug - I was an innocent in many ways.

I have two art/print sales a year to offset the cost of maintaining Apifera's adopted barnyard animals. All have been adopted from New Moon Goat Farm, Sanctuary One and Lavender Dream Donkey Rescue - others have been brought in as strays or through special needs situations, like Priscilla the old goose and the many semi feral cats.

Monday, February 27, 2012

R.I.P., dear Clara

Chickens really get under your skin. And when you have a flock there are always certain ones that entwine with you more than others. Such was Clara. Along with the other two Buff Orpingtons, Florence and Golda, she was a charming, friendly and personable chicken. She had wonderful buff undergarments. The Buffs are such a wonderful breed, more like dogs as they follow along and are very personable. Golda doesn't run, she skips and it makes me so happy. Florence is more like the big sister.

I caught Clara looking listless two days ago and suspected Cocci. If you've ever had chickens and one goes sick - and chickens do go sick - and you've Googled the symptoms, you will be bombarded with so many possibilities that you never really know what took them out. But I treated her for Cocci with Sulfa, gave her Probiotics and vitamin liquids. She ate well for me and was still walking, but more in a drunk stagger. Her eyes and balance seemed better the next day and I treated her again. By night she seemed like she might pull through, but...I just knew.

This morning she was very weak and her eyes were shut. I tried to get water in her, but she was failing and couldn't stand. I had her in the chicken hospice unit in the chicken coop, covered in a hay blanket and held her several times throughout the day but she was really out of it. She died around four p.m. surrounded by the sounds of her flock. She is buried under the shade of the bamboo.

It's never a delight to bury an animal, but there's something so humbling about the life of a chicken. They are such busy creatures, busy, busy, busy! And they provide one of the earth's most perfect packaged foods - an egg. I always thank my hens for their eggs, and when I know one is dying, I repeat my appreciation over and over.

Clara never shied away from hanging out in the barnyard where the action was - which meant where I was. I love the picture at the bottom of this post, as you can see Clara comin' on over to check out the scene.

Clara was a working chicken. She provided eggs...and companionship.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black Elk, Campbell, Jesus and me

I often speak about Old Barn as if she is a creature in and of herself, because she is.

While I spend enormous amounts of time in Old Barn it is often to fulfill my daily duties as shepherd or animal caretaker. But I do stop, more and more since I am aging and I need to take breaks more between walking loads of hay or water to and from stalls. These moments of rest give me the opportunity to really be of her, not just in her or with her, but of her.

I did not grow up in a church going family and I searched in my early adult hood for what my faith was. I had some ideas, no doubt. When I moved to New York City in my mid twenties I was very alone and began going to a high Episcopal church of an old friend. I found it comforting - the hymns, and the feeling of community. The history of such an old building intrigued me - who had sat in the pew I was in, I wondered? I never felt anger or judgment from the stones, brick and beautiful light emanating from the stained glass windows, but eventually I did feel like a misfit and the sermons began to feel like one man telling me his fears, twisted into a sermon.

I could always walk into a church - in New York, in Minneapolis, in Paris or Zurich - and take shelter and comfort, knowing the walls would engulf me, the light would warm me and room itself would silence me into clarity. I would not be judged by the building itself.

That's what Old Barn is for me, my church, where I worship with pitch fork and donkey breath over my shoulder. When I am in her care on a windy or rainy day with only whisperings of straw fluttering about, or a hen scratching, I am of her.

If I could meet Jesus, and I would love to have him out, especially if I could have Joseph Campbell on the same visit, and maybe Black Elk, I would take him to Old Barn and we would break pie there, and just sit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lesson of the hen

If the ground below you swells and all around they are rushing, squacking, pushing you to go right or left...then stop.

Stop yourself and think, "What do I need right now?"

If all you need is a dry brick then you are in a good position. A position that does not elevate you in rank, but gives you perspective on the others rushing about. There you can ponder, "I was younger once too, I rushed more, but now I have this dry brick all to myself."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Art sale - helps adopted animals

The sale goes on through March.

Twice a year I do a real push to help offset the costs of nurturing our adopted barnyard animals. The animals here will always receive what they need in vet care and nutrition and water- and love and attention from me - but my art sales not only help us make a living, they help the Apifera misfits thrive here. Feed and hay costs continue to rise. We've added more pasture and more fencing to give more land a rest for longer periods. We've worked hard on mud control to help keep foot rot and other bacterias down. Twice a year I do water treatments to prevent Cocci. Worming, vaccines and topical nutrition for old dry skin of goats and pigs...it all adds up. I always tell people that $10 helps buy a bag of 40# feed and $5 buys Probiotic to have on hand - always- for ruminants. Matilda gets a hoof trim every two months since her feet were neglected.

So buy some art- prints are reduced in price to as little as $10 and larger archives are down to $75. There is some original art too- I might add more. I will be adding more "onesies" - prints that have only one left and won't be reprinted.

A good day for a pig

It's that time of year where I put the animals to work to help me pre-till the vegetable garden. They root and fertilize, making my late March work easier. It's a beautiful relationship, woman feeds animal, animal gives her companionship but also works in the garden, contributing their own little nutritious packages to spread about the dirt - and the worms sing. I used to give this job to the mini donkeys, but they treated the garden as a giant dust play pen, and ended up compacting the soil - and giving me lots of entertainment.

So I thought Rosie would be delighted with this job. But first she had to enter the vegetable garden. This became an impossible task for her, even though the elevation drop at the entrance was a mere inch. I tried everything to coax her in, even cookie parties.

"Nope. Not gonna down that scary step, said the pig. It must have been a depth perception issue. So I made a variety of steps out of bricks.

"Is this better, Pig?" I asked.

"Nope, not gonna down that scary step," said the pig.

Farmer thinks, ponders. In minutes she returns with a black stall mat.

"Pig! Surely this will be perfect for your pretty little piggie toes and help you get to the mecca of dirt and roots!" I say with enthusiasm.

"Hmmm..." says the pig. "Hrumph. That wasn't so bad."

"Thank you dear, Pig."

Rosie the pig was adopted from Sanctuary One, along with Stevie the handicapped goat. Sanctuary One is a 'care farm' in southern Oregon where animals, land and people work together to heal, nurture and inspire.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Misfits of Love" presentation

I'm very pleased with how things are flowing in "Misfits of Love" and now I have an online presentation of the working Table of Contents, the introduction and chapter one. Each chapter will begin with a narrative about the animal, followed with a 'conversation' with that animal in a fable style, for lack of a better word.

The first chapter is - of course - about the first old animal to be adopted by Apifera, our almost 19 year old goat, Old Man Guinnias. I felt this piece of art just captured his soul entwined with mine. I really sat back and just soared when it was finished - I hit the sweet.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The intention

Thanks to "Misfits of Love" being funded by my generous pledgers via Kickstarter, I've been able to focus on shaping the initial parts of the book. I don't know if all artist-writers go through this, but I have to see spreads on paper at an early stage so when I'm writing and painting, I can see it in my head. All of this might evolve, but this is my process in making an illustrated book.

I found writing the 'Introduction' a challenge. I wanted to explain how I got here, but I didn't want to simply regurgitate from my memoir, "Raggedy Love" [currently looking for a publisher]. I also thought a lot about why this book is worthy of being sent out to the world. While the animals are beautiful even in there old, twisted bodies and bring me companionship, smiles and an outlet to nurture, write and paint, I kept coming back to my "intention" - the same intention I was born with.

Just as I tried to help a wounded moth as a child, it was not the act itself that is so touching to people, it is that I actually believed I could help. I never lost hope for the moth's survival in my child's heart. It is that hope I carry with me when I'm nursing a starving goat like little Aunt Bea or feeding a wounded rooster. No matter what the outcome, I try, and so do the animals. We work together until as caretaker I must rest and acknowledge the facts giving the animal my blessing to move on if it must, with or without my help.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Head Troll nuances

Frankie, also known as The Head Troll, always reminds me that in one second - the time it takes to click a new photo - life has moved on to the next moment. Each photo encased the many nuances of her being. Sit back, and enjoy some moments of Frankie.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New writing for "Life with Dogs"

I wanted to let you know I am writing some articles for a really wonderful online magazine called Life with Dogs. The site has a huge following and posts articles about health, news, humor and much more about, well, dogs.

My pieces tend to be more about my experiences living with dogs, including my last post about my old friend, Louie Louie, the fox terrier who was my companion for 14 years, and accompanied to Oregon where I eventually met the Dirt Farmer. In fact, the first two post I did require handkerchiefs, but crying is cathartic.

So please visit the site and enjoy!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Conversing with chickens

"Good morning, Jane!" I said.

"Greetings," Jane replied.

"What are doing up there?" I asked.

"Over time I've learned it's helpful to start my day on top of a ramp so as to see the view from all angles. It brings me perspective of what's to come."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

That nose

The nose of Itty Bitty never ceases to capture me, or maybe I should say enrapture me. The result of gazing on it for even seconds makes me want to try to capture it in a painting, but I haven't tried, at lest not yet. Why try to do it justice with colors from a tube when I can just gaze on the real thing and reach over and touch it.